The visitors to the Museum are welcomed in the entrance hall by a statue of the goddess Sekhmet. The goddess is shown as a woman with a lioness’ head crowned with a solar disk, sitting on a throne. Sekhmet was one of the incarnations of the goddess of heavens, the dangerous ‘solar eye’ destroying the enemies of the sun god Ra, and the cosmic mother of the pharaoh as well. Amenhotep III had several hundred such statues made for his mortuary temple at Kom el-Hitan in western Thebes. Each of them represented the goddess in a different aspect, which together formed a kind of a litany in stone. Each statue was bearing one of Sekhmet’s epithets; in the case of our piece it is ‘Beloved by her Lord’. After the temple had been destroyed by an earthquake, most of the statues were transferred to the temple precinct of the goddess Mut at Karnak. From there many of them found their way to the museums all over the world.
Statue of the goddess Sekhmet
Sekhmet (“Powerful”) was a lioness-headed goddess of war and maternity, a dangerous ‘solar eye’ destroying enemies of the sun-god and causing illness, and at the same moment being the cosmic mother of the pharaoh. The statue was found at Karnak , in the temple precinct of the goddess Mut (the god Amun’s wife, with whom Sekhmet might have been identified). Originally, however, like several hundred similar ones it stood in the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Heitan in Western Thebes . These statues formed a kind of a litany in stone, each of them representing one of the aspects of the goddess, with a distinctive epithet. The text beside the right leg: “Good/Perfect God, Lord of the Two Lands, Nebmaatra, beloved of Sekhmet, who is beloved of her lord, given life, eternally”.
The text beside the left leg: “Beloved Son of Ra, Amenhotep, Ruler of Thebes, beloved of Sekhmet, who (i.e. the goddess) is beloved of her lord, given life, eternally”. The name of Amun in the king’s cartouche had been erased during the Amarna period and subsequently roughly restored. On the right side of the throne there is engraved inscription of J. J. Rifaud, who claimed to discover the statue: ‘D[ecouve]rt par J[ac]q[ues] Rifaud sculpteur t.s.’. Granodiorite Eighteenth Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1380-1360 B.C.